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The Anatomy of Temperature - Essay Example

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The Anatomy of Temperature

Temperature is also an important indicator of other problems, with high temperature being indicative of fever (which usually signals an infection) and therefore can be useful in determining the health of the patient (Miller, 2009). Essential Principles Evidently, a nurse needs to be aware of how to check the temperature of a patient as it is important in so many ways. There are four major areas from which a temperature can be taken; oral, rectal, gut and skin-based (including ear and forehead). Other areas can sometimes be used, such as the vagina (Timby, 2008). The first four are the most consistent with the body temperature and therefore are the most useful in determining the true temperature of the patient. The oral temperature is the easiest of these measurements to take, although it is generally slightly lower than the ‘core’ temperature because it is influenced by outside factors such as eating and talking (Blainey, 1974). An oral thermometer can be placed below the tongue to take this reading. The skin measurements, such as the ear and the forehead, tend to be more susceptible to changes in outside temperature and the clothing of the individual, and therefore have different ranges of what can be considered normal and healthy (Ilsley et al, 1983). Skin temperatures can easily be taken by the patient using a plastic thermometer strip, which is useful for patients who do not require hospitalization but may require some temperature monitoring (Funnell et al, 2008). This simply needs to be placed against the forehead and the approximate measurement given should be noted (Hegner et al, 2009). The gut temperature is the most difficult to take, although it is most accurate, as it involves swallowing a small thermometer. The ear has become one of the most popular ways of testing the temperature of the individual in recent years. This is because the eardrum is thought to closely mirror the temperature of the core (White, 2005). To take a temperature in this way, an ear thermometer can be placed into the ear canal of the individual, where the infrared temperature from the tympanic membrane will be recorded (White, 2005). This is excellent because it is not as invasive as taking a rectal or vaginal temperature, which requires the patient to undress and a body-heat thermometer to be fully inserted. Evidence Base The temperature is a very easy way of learning something about the patient. A fever (indicated by high temperature) suggests that the patient as an infection, and therefore can be used in diagnostic practise. Hyperthermia can also be important in a patient and is indicated by high temperature. This is also known as heat stroke, and can cause nausea, confusion and headache (White, 2005). Knowing the temperature of the patient in this case can help the nurse to understand how severe the case is and what kind of treatments are appropriate. It is very important not to confuse fever and hyperthermia (although the temperature-related symptoms are very similar) for a number of reasons, and so temperature alone should not be used in diagnostic cases. The main difference is that fever comes from a controlled action from the human brain as a reaction to a pathogen (or other disturbance) whilst hyperthermia involves a raise in core temperature without the consent of the ...Show more


Temperature Anatomy The anatomy of temperature is fairly simple. The human body temperature is part of a homeostatic mechanism to keep the body at around 37 degrees Celsius (Norman, 2000). The reason for this is that temperature is very important in chemical reactions, as it can have a dramatic effect on the speed of these, and a vast number of reactions occur in the body daily (Henderson, 1964)…
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